In a dimly lit room, a dozen or so men in Russian military uniforms, their faces concealed by dark balaclavas, stood around a man reading out a letter addressed to President Vladimir Putin.
“As of today, we still have not received weapons and ammo,” the man said, identifying his group as soldiers from the 580th Separate howitzer Artillery Division from Serpukhov, a city 62 miles south of Moscow — a unit he said is now stationed in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.
“We ask that our guys be recalled from this assault as they do not possess the necessary training or experience,” the man pleaded, his voice artificially warped to protect his identity. “Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich, we are asking you to sort out this situation.”
This appeal, which appeared this month on Russian Telegram channels, was just one in a flood of new videos that have surfaced since mid-February, in which recent Russian conscripts have complained about how they are being sent to fight and die on the front lines in Ukraine, using phrases such as “criminal orders” and “senseless assaults.”
One Russian media outlet, Vyorstka, calculated that in one month, recruits from at least 16 regions across Russia have appeared in videos appealing for Putin’s intervention.
Scores of conscripts say they are being forced to storm Ukrainian positions as part of Russia’s eastern offensive, without sufficient training, ammunition or weapons. The Washington Post was unable to independently verify the videos, some of which were sent to local Russian media outlets by conscripts or their families.
The flurry of videos signals that the problems that plagued Russia’s invasion throughout its first year are far from resolved, and they offer further evidence that Moscow is relying on a grim tactic of sending waves of soldiers to certain death to soften up Ukrainian positions, ahead of sending in elite, experienced fighters to then gain ground. [Continue reading…]